We are betting big on data boom in India: Yotta Solutions CEO Sunil Gupta

Jul 27, 2020 - Business Standard

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things are accelerating growth of storage and processing of data, says Sunil Gupta

The Hiranandani Group last year announced its foray into the data centre space with its subsidiary Yotta Infrastructure Solutions. Yotta is a managed data centre service provider that designs, builds, and operates large-scale data parks in India. it recently unveiled a data centre in Navi Mumbai. The group will be investing around Rs 15,000 crore over the years in Navi Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai.

Sunil Gupta, Yotta Infrastructure’s Managing Partner & CEO, spoke to T E Narasimhan about how the company is planning to cash on India’s digital revolution and plans to set up data parks in other cities of the country.

How has the data centre market in India grown over the last decade or so?

There are two factors that led to the growth of data centers in India: Massive data explosion within India and the rapid adoption of cloud computing.

The growth of data is internally linked to a lot of market drivers like the evolution of 4G, cheap and high capacity data plans by all major telcos, wide access to smartphones, high-speed broadband internet, retail e-commerce, video streaming, video calls, etc. These factors have resulted in the creation and consumption of a huge amount of data by end-users. The increase in the growth of industries such as e-commerce, banking, and more are the other reasons.

The emerging use cases around Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things are just accelerating the explosive growth of storage and processing of data to unimaginable limits. A huge push for Digital India and Atmabinrbhar India by the government of India coupled within concerns around data privacy of citizens leading to the introduction of the Data Protection Bill in Parliament is also resulting in a lot of push for data localisation within Indian shores.

All this data is getting stored, analysed and computed somewhere and that place is nothing but a data center.

Till about 2014-15, a DC operator used to see annual demand of less than 1,000 racks. Today it has grown to more than 3,000 racks and it is going to be in excess of about 6,000-7,000 racks per year in the coming years.

Not only supply has to increase big time, but the supply has to come in large clusters/campuses/parks with all support infrastructure like self-generated green power, bulk redundant fiber and transport, and residential ecosystem and so the customers can grow their cloud infrastructure at the same site for 15-25 years without having to move around to newer sites every 2-3 years, as is the current situation.

Does it mean companies are moving from captive data centres to cloud computing, which in turn increases data centre demand?

Yes. Many enterprises are now moving their workloads to the cloud for lower costs, dynamic availability and scalability of services and low-latency access. The need for highly scalable third party data centre infrastructure built on economies of scale is on the rise due to these factors since public cloud grids run in data centres and not in captive enterprise data centres.

The increasing complexity and cost of creating and maintaining captive data centres and the availability of major cloud operator’s grids within India has resulted into a continuous movement of enterprise workloads from captive DCs to the cloud, and in-turn into a third-party datacenter.

Adversity like the current pandemic induced lockdown has just accelerated that trend since the third party data centres have continued to operate and keep customers’ applications live during all this time, the captive data centres, being not-so-easily-accessible are always running the risk of low maintenance and frequent downtime.

What are the expansion plans for Yotta in the coming years?

Our first datacenter Yotta NM1 was launched and has a capacity of 7,200 racks. It is almost 50 per cent bigger than the largest existing data centre in India and in fact it is Asia’s largest and world’s second-largest Uptime Institute Tier 4 certified data centre.

We plan to make five such buildings in our Navi Mumbai DC park. Unlike the retail model where DC providers make one single DC building at a site, Yotta is setting up data parks in Navi Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. In Navi Mumbai and Delhi, the company is planning to set up 30,000 racks each and another 20,000 racks in Chennai. Thus we aim to add a capacity of 80,000 racks with 700 MW power over the next 7 to 10 years with an outlay of around Rs 15,000 crore, of which about Rs 3,500 crore we shall spend in next 3 years.

We are also exploring setting up data parks in Kolkata, Bangalore, Gujrat, and Hyderabad and some of some emerging economies in APAC/Middle East regions.

Are you planning to rope in any investors to fund the projects?

Every day we are getting calls from domestic and overseas investors to take some pie in the company, but for the next 18 months, we are adequately funded. Our initial project funding is from the internal accruals from the Hiranandani Group, and debts raised from banks. But considering our plans to scale up the business in the future we don’t deny the possibility of getting a partner or funding in the future. But not at this stage.